TVRO or VSAT, which to choose?

You’ve reached this article because you’re really technical. Most people don’t even know what TVRO and VSAT are. And yet, you dug in and asked the tough questions. I’m happy to weigh in, but I feel like I need to step back a bit for those who found this article just by browsing. So, let’s define a few terms first.


VSAT stands for “Very Small Aperture Terminal.” It’s essentially satellite internet. Satellite internet has been around for decades, and over that time it hasn’t always been very well regarded. But, of course it’s changed and evolved. Today’s satellite internet is speedy enough to stream, and it’s a really good solution for people who can’t get internet in other ways.


TVRO stands for “Television Receive Only.” It’s essentially satellite TV. Satellite TV is a winner for tens of millions of people and between the top two satellite providers, it’s the dominant form of live TV in the US. That’s not going to change. When people get out in the world in an RV or on a boat, they want satellite TV just like they have at home. And mobile/marine satellite TV has delivered, time and time again.

Comparing VSAT and TVRO to traditional delivery

With newer technologies, there’s very little difference between satellite-delivered service on a boat or vehicle and the same kind of service that you get in a building or home. VSAT systems are a little slower than regular internet, but home and business speeds are so fast now that there’s room for that. VSAT systems still let you shop, post, and even stream with satisfaction.

TVRO systems have no compromises compared to traditional satellite TV. If your boat is able to accommodate a larger dish, you can get all the channels you’re looking for in high definition and 4K. It’s a very satisfying experience.

But which to choose?

That’s the subject of this article, isn’t it? If you can only afford one, which one should it be? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so let’s dig deep into the argument for each.

The argument for VSAT

People want internet. They want it on their phones, they want to stream, shop, connect, share, and post. And VSAT gives them all that. It’s a good solution for connection if you want to give people the connection they want.

TVRO is a solution based on television watching. And television watching is place-dependent. People will watch TV in their staterooms, in the bar, and in other common spaces. But they won’t do it on their phones.

The argument for TVRO

The thing you get with satellite TV is unlimited scalability. You can have 100 people watching TV in their staterooms and all it takes is some extra wiring. They’ll all get a great experience. With satellite internet, it gets slower as more people use it. That’s the biggest problem with  it. So, at a certain point, it becomes more of a frustration than a benefit.

The choice is up to you

A lot of our marine customers choose both solutions. There are ways to manage the internet connections so that regular users can’t stream in HD. This gives them the connection they want on their phones but doesn’t suck up all the available bandwidth. When you combine that with a satellite TV subscription, people still get the video entertainment they want, and everyone’s happy.

The best part of all of this is that you have an expert on your side. Call the folks at Signal Connect to discuss your options. You’ll get an advisor who can walk you through all of your choices and help you narrow down what’s best for you. It all starts with a call to 888-233-7563 during East Coast business hours. Want after-hours help? Fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you, usually within one business day, on your schedule.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.